LEETON footballer Jacob Townsend has made a compelling case to be part of Richmond’s finals campaign after a stunning return to AFL football.
Townsend was recalled into the Richmond team for last Sunday’s clash with Fremantle in Perth, his first game at AFL level in 14 months.
The 24-year-old starred, kicking six goals to be among the Tigers’ best.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was pleased for Townsend after finally getting his chance.
“He was impressive wasn’t he?,” Hardwick said post game.
“Look, he’s had a really, really good year at VFL level, we probably just haven’t had the spot available for him.
“I was pleased for him, he’s hung tough all year. The coach hasn’t played him all year, he finally gets a reward and to finish with six goals is a terrific reward for a kid that’s hung tough all year.”
Townsend kicked two goals early to keep the Tigers in the contest. Hardwick said he played his role very effectively for the team.
“It was a great result, he worked incredibly hard,” he said.
“He had a bit of a job on Michael Johnson, which we were pleased with how that went and he got the rewards as well, which is terrific.”
Townsend is in his second season at Richmond after being traded from Greater Western Sydney (GWS).
He managed 28 games over four seasons at the Giants, before moving to Richmond in pursuit of more opportunities.
Townsend only managed four games in 2016, and had to wait until round 22 for his opportunity this year after strong form at VFL level.
Richmond development coach Xavier Clarke said Townsend had to change his game to force his way into the team.
“He had to change his game to an extent,” Clarke told ‘Coaches Corner’ on Richmond’s website.
“Get a bit more of the outside footy, go forward, try to kick some goals, which he did, and he’s been working on his goalkicking also.
“I don’t think it’s any fluke that he’s got to the point that he did and the performance that he showed on the weekend.”
Clarke said with a midfield that boasts the likes of Brownlow Medal favourite Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin, Townsend had to add more to his game.
“He had to to try and put his hand up for senior selection and play different roles,” Clarke told Coaches Corner.
“When you’ve got really good on-ballers, Dustin, Cotchin and these guys, you have certainly got to change your style to an extent and he was really open to that.
“He went away, worked on it.”
- Highlights of Townsend’s monster game here
Clarke said Townsend had become frustrated by not getting an opportunity at AFL level but never gave up.
“He wouldn’t be human, or an athlete or a competitor if he wasn’t disappointed at getting senior opportunities but he just stuck to his guns and knew what he had to work on and full credit to him,” Clarke said.
“He just put his hand up when he got the opportunity and there you go, six goals.”
Clarke said Townsend’s form at VFL level, that attributed to his AFL selection, had been brilliant.
“Towner has been working really hard in the VFL throughout the whole year, as all our players have been,” Clarke said.
“His form has been really, really good. Really consistent, he’s played a bit of time through the midfield but he’s also changed his game a little bit, he’s gone forward at times to try to get his opportunity to play senior footy.
“Certainly he got frustrated a little bit throughout the year, as you do when you’re in good form, but he got his opportunity and took it with both hands.”